Medical Department at Hope's Campaign 2009
For those who didn't make it to Hope's Campaign. I thought I'd give a little information.
This was a tactical event with no spectators. A great advantage to such an event is that it is a chance to test aspects of your impression which staged events do not test. There is no script so you must be prepared for the unexpected.
I was assigned as acting Surgeon to 1st Battalion and given that I was the only medical department memebr in the Brigade, I was also responsible for the entire brigade. I served the role in the field of an assistant surgeon and moved with and behind our lines.
Given the numbers there was no Ambulance Corps at this event. Had we had them, the terrain would have proved nasty and they would have been really challenged. Think Wilderness. This was infantry terrain and there were rocks, thickets, and only a few paths/trails through the woods. Cavalry was restricted to movement and Artillery would have found maneuver nearly impossible.
I took to the field with my haversack and canteen along with a medical haversack. The later is a simple oilcloth haversack with my pocket kit, dressings, drugs and paperwork.
I also decided to carry a sidearm in a holster to this event. This is based on two primary accounts of armed surgeons (not surviving side arms) and also recommendations in Chilsolm's 3rd Edition.
The primary concerns of the command were blisters of the men. As this was a tactical with no "casualties" in the field, even though I was equiped to handle those issues my main activity consisted of maintaining my distance and contact with our lines and being prepared to deal with real minor injuries with dressings. Luckily none occured.
There were several occasions when our lines were so arranged that I was put between federal troops and our own lines. Though I did not need to use my side arm, I can completely see the need for such "protection" in a real setting. (At High Tide my orderly and myself captured 3 unarmed federal musicians found behind our lines) The weight of the side arm was insignificant and well worth carrying to be more authentically equiped. It did not get in my way at all. Keeping track if it was no more difficult that keeping track of my medical haversack.
The two big lessons learned for me were keeping your medical supplies light enough for a mobile tactical maneuver as well as protected from the rain and being aware of the changing battlefield environment which means that just because there is a man behind you and your lines, doesn't mean he is friendly.
These aren't things you ever experience at staged/scripted events. I'd recommend any medical staff take a chance at these events, even just once, as a chance to test your sense of the battlefield environment and your kit. I know I will be back for more events like this to continually work at improving my impression.
Medical Director Bee's Brigade - 150th First Manassas
Medical Director Evans' Brigade - 150th Leesburg
Medical Director Valley District - 150th McDowell
Chief Surgeon of Division - 150th Seven Pines/Seven Days
Chief Surgeon of Division - 150th Sharpsburg
Chief Surgeon Heth's Division - 150th Gettysburg